LETR began in 1981 when Wichita, Kansas, Police Chief Richard LaMunyon created the Torch Run. He thought the Torch Run would help law enforcement be active in the community and support Special Olympics Kansas. In 1983, Chief LaMunyon presented the program to the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). They decided to endorse Torch Run and became the “Founding Law Enforcement Organization.” With the IACP’s support, LETR became the movement’s largest public awareness and fundraising group for Special Olympics.
The mission of the Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics Minnesota is to raise funds for and awareness of the Special Olympics movement. Special Olympics is a program which reaffirms our beliefs that with hope and dedication, we can see achievement and self-worth realized by any individual. It is our belief that persons with intellectual disabilities, by their involvement in Special Olympics, show the community at large there are no limits to human potential or the human spirit.
Known as Guardians of the Flame, law enforcement members and Special Olympics athletes carry the “Flame of Hope” into Opening Ceremonies of local competitions. They also carry it into Special Olympics State, Provincial, National, Regional and World Games. There are over 97,000 law enforcement members that carry the “Flame of Hope” annually. The flame symbolizes courage and celebration of diversity uniting communities around the globe.
Since the beginning, LETR has raised over $600 million for Special Olympics programs. Minnesota has one of the most successful programs in the world, with more than 1,500 volunteers raising $4.8 million in 2019. This money allows our over 8,100 athletes across the state participate in athletic, leadership, school and health programs that help them empowers people to transform themselves, their communities and the world.
Torch Run has grown over the years and now includes many fundraising events, including the Final Leg Run, which kicks off the State Summer Games each June; more than 21 statewide Polar Plunge® events; Tip-A-Cop® events; Cop on Top events; golf events; a Plane Pull event, the World’s Largest Truck Convoy®; and other miscellaneous fundraising events.
As retired Chief Richard LaMunyon once said, “What started in 1981…as a flicker of hope for Special Olympics has now become a roaring flame of stability for Special Olympics athletes worldwide.” LETR is changing the world, one program at a time.